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A Cashless, High-Value, Anonymous Currency: How?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the this-must-be-the-mysterious-step-2 dept.

The Almighty Buck 400

jfruh writes "The cashless future is one of those concepts that always seems to be just around the corner, but never quite gets here. There's been a lot of hype around Sweden going almost cashless, but most transactions there use easily traceable credit and debit cards. Bitcoin offers anonymity, but isn't backed by any government and has seen high-profile hacks and collapses in value. Could an experiment called MintChip brewing in Canada finally take us to cashless nirvana?"

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400 comments

Bitcoin hacked? Um no (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495801)

Theft, yes. Bitcoin itself ever hacked, no.

Re:Bitcoin hacked? Um no (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495915)

Not hacked, but never proven to be totally anonymous either. You still leave a 'paper' trail.

Re:Bitcoin hacked? Um no (1, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40496091)

Yes it can be hacked and guys have already proven you can counterfit Bitcoin by copying and spending the same bitcoins twice before the use of a bitcoin has been noticed by the system.

This is the problem a single bitcoin can be replicated over and over, so the mechanisim to show that a bitcoin was spent can be gamed in a way to spend the same bitcoin twice.

No (5, Informative)

Rix (54095) | about 2 years ago | (#40496241)

If you don't check to see that the transfer has been confirmed, sure, but that's no different than putting a bill on the counter and then snatching it away. It's not a hack, and you can't do it to someone that doesn't allow you to.

correction (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495813)

>Bitcoin offers anonymity, but and isn't backed by any government

There, fixed that for you

Why government backing is needed: Tax payment (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40495869)

Without government backing, it's difficult to find sellers of physical goods that accept the currency. Sellers of physical goods need to pay tax, and their suppliers in turn need to pay tax. Because only a government-backed currency is good for paying tax, companies choose to standardize their operations on one currency.

Re:Why government backing is needed: Tax payment (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#40495961)

No no, you're missindurstanding – both are negatives. The fact that it's not gvmnt backed gives all the draw backs you pointed out, the fact that it's anonymous means that scammers and launderers have a field day.

Re:Why government backing is needed: Tax payment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496147)

Government backing is needed for one major reason. It's not taxes or "value", it's simply that it is Legal Tender.

I can hire someone to build a house or go buy a car and theoretically pay with Bitcoins, but that contractor or car salesman MUST accept dollars. No matter what the value of a dollar is, every American business has to accept them. Same with Euros for Europe, Pesos for Mexico, Yen for Japan, etc.

That's what makes government backing useful,

Prepaid means no legal tender required (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40496195)

Notice the three words after "legal tender" on Federal Reserve notes: "for all debts". Technically, only businesses that extend credit have to accept legal tender. If a business never gives credit, such as a business that requires payment in full before services are rendered, it's my understanding that it need not accept legal tender.

Re:Prepaid means no legal tender required (1)

Captoo (103399) | about 2 years ago | (#40496501)

You're almost right, but there's more than one kind of debt. As soon as you accept goods or services from a business, you owe them whatever money was agreed upon. While you may not have a written credit contract, you're still indebted. If that weren't so, they would have no legal right to demand payment.

Re:Why government backing is needed: Tax payment (0)

0dugo0 (735093) | about 2 years ago | (#40496251)

Nonsense, I can offer my services in europe in any currency I please as long as I pay my VAT in euros. These home made fiat currencies however are worthless. The only thing that gives fiat currencies value is that you have to pay your taxes and fines in them.

Re:Why government backing is needed: Tax payment (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40496349)

And that the government which represents ~ 40% of most economies will pay you in their own currencies.

Re:Why government backing is needed: Tax payment (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#40496481)

No.

Legal tender only means that you have to accept it for debts denoted in that currency. For example, if I send you a bill for 100 US dollars you can pay for it in any way you want so long as it is legal tender and I cannot sue you for non-payment, whether that is 10 rolls of quarters, a single $100 bill, or 2 $50 bills. However, when someone is ringing you up at a cash register, no debt has occurred. Meaning the person at the cash register can refuse payment in legal tender and might accept only gold, silver, copper, bills under $50, etc.

Similarly, you are allowed to have debts in other currencies such as Euros or gold. In fact, prior to FDR's decision to confiscate the wealth of America by taking it off of the true gold standard, it was common practice to put in a "gold clause" meaning that you could demand payment in either dollars, or the equivalent amount in gold. For example, someone might get paid $10 an hour but have a gold clause in saying that they could be paid with 0.48375 troy ounces of gold (the equivalent in gold back when the US was on a gold standard). Gold clauses are enforceable today on contracts made since 1977 when Americans were finally allowed to own gold.

Gold pressed Latinum. (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40495815)

Honestly, you will NEVER have a digital cashless anonymous currency. It just cant be done. bitcoin is proof that it cant be done.

Re:Gold pressed Latinum. (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40495933)

This man disagrees:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Chaum [wikipedia.org]

Re:Gold pressed Latinum. (4, Informative)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#40495993)

What can be done mathematically in an abstract environment is one thing, what can be done in the real world with competing interests and (rather importantly) physical implementations.. are often two very different things.

Re:Gold pressed Latinum. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496187)

This man disagrees:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Chaum [wikipedia.org]

Well, whoop-de-doo and good for him. If a truck's barreling down the highway at 85mph and I'm standing in its way, I can disagree that it'll cause me grievous injury straight up to the point where it hits me, but that won't make it true.

Re:Gold pressed Latinum. (2)

SilentStaid (1474575) | about 2 years ago | (#40496465)

But that would make a really good YouTube video. You and David debating this in the middle of a 1 lane highway with a 18 wheeler bearing down on you at full tilt. It's the only way we'll settle this argument. With everyone dead.

At least my hypothetical non-sense has more of a chance of happening than BitCoin. /rimshot

Re:Gold pressed Latinum. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496051)

A system with a central authority, and constitutional barriers against sifting through the authority's data without a court order for specific information, might be feasible and could provide middle ground between the champions of the virtues of anonymity and law and order types who are concerned about anonymous ruffians.

I've wondered if you could come up with a system where a private key physically controlled by a judge (either as a pass phrase or a smart card) is used to control access to the encrypted information in the central authority.

Re:Gold pressed Latinum. (5, Informative)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#40496059)

The main problem with anonymous currency is that is being pressed to be outlawed all around the world. The second problem, of course, is people.

Re:Gold pressed Latinum. (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#40496083)

So because the very first airplane ever made didn't fly, it was proof that powered flight is impossible?

Re:Gold pressed Latinum. (1)

dammy (131759) | about 2 years ago | (#40496207)

I agree, it won't happen. What we will see is a future in cashless world reserve electronic currency to replace the US Dollar by the world Elites. As the disaster of the EURO shows, if you can get governments to give up their own currency, you can dictate what they must do to continue to receive loans. Safely out of government's control, the elites will back it by gold/silver so it will be stable in price and against inflation.

Gold (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495821)

Gold:
[x] Cashless
[x] High-Value
[x] Anonymous

Re:Gold (5, Insightful)

Iceykitsune (1059892) | about 2 years ago | (#40495863)

Gold:
[x] Cashless
[x] High-Value
[x] Anonymous

[ ] Digital

Re:Gold (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495887)

[ ] Digital

This feature was not included in original requirements. Scope creep!

Re:Gold (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 2 years ago | (#40495939)

Gold:
[x] Cashless
[x] High-Value
[x] Anonymous

[ ] Digital

You might want to go into that large blue room located outside of home once in a while. There are a lot of people in there who do not have access to computers, have no credit cards and not bank accounts.

Re:Gold (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496113)

Gold: [x] Cashless [x] High-Value [x] Anonymous

[ ] Digital

You might want to go into that large blue room located outside of home once in a while. There are a lot of people in there who do not have access to computers, have no credit cards and not bank accounts.

yes but what do native Africans have to do with this?

Re:Gold (4, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 years ago | (#40496353)

GLD; but then you blow the anonymous feature. Of course gold is "cash" too, so I don't know what the GP means when he says it's "cashless". If he means, "not requiring government backing to have value", then yeah, sure; but AFAIK the definition of "cash" is tangible money whereas "cashless" to me implies money that is only a ledger entry in electronic form. The ledger entry may be associated with physical hardware; but the hardware itself is not the money, simply a means of proving that there is a unique ledger entry symbolizing money.

This whole topic is silly anyway. The summary implies that a cashless society is "nirvana" which in the west we synonmize with "paradise" or "heaven". For many, myself included, the vsion of cashless is "hell", which for our Hindu and Islamic friends I do not know how to translate. Dystopia. I think we can all understand that.

For me, heaven was when I was a kid and adults still paid for a lot of things with coins because they actually had some purchasing power. We could bring back this bit of heaven by simply striking new coins of the same composition with 10X the value. A "new penny" would carry a value of $0.10, a "new nickle" $0.50, etc. Pocket change would be worth something again, the zinc lobby would be OK with it (only reason we still have the penny is the zinc mining lobby), the vending machine people wouldn't have such a hard time accomodating this, and we would effectively and painlessly introduce dollar coins in the form of dimes instead of bulkier coins that people hate.

Of course there would be some resistance at first; but society ran just fine when a dime had a purchasing power equivalent of $2.00 today!

Re:Gold (0)

orthancstone (665890) | about 2 years ago | (#40496071)

[x] Anonymous

Unless you are talking about small quantities, I'd wager most gold "owners" have a piece of paper representing what they own rather than the actual physical bullion.

That or a set of stupid coins whose value is highly subjective.

Re:Gold (1, Offtopic)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40496137)


Gold:
[x] Cashless
[x] High-Value - for now
[x] Anonymous

Gold is currently in a price bubble, same with silver. it will come crashing down.

Re:Gold (2, Insightful)

panikfan (1843944) | about 2 years ago | (#40496369)

The US Dollar is the bubble. Gold can only be seen as being 'in a bubble' when compared to fiat currencies. The value of precious metals is static, it's the value of the fiat currency against which they are measured that changes.

Re:Gold (1)

godefroi (52421) | about 2 years ago | (#40496479)

If the value of precious metals is static, and the USD price of gold is going through the roof, wouldn't that mean the value of the dollar is getting lower all the time? If the dollar was in a "bubble", then a dollar would buy more and more gold, not less, correct?

This is a legitimate question. I'm neither an economist nor currency expert.

Re:Gold (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496513)

The value of precious metals is static, it's the value of the fiat currency against which they are measured that changes.

Bullshit.

Precious metals are subject to the same forces of supply and demand as everything else in the world. That they are MORE STABLE than fiat currencies is not the same thing as them being static.

Re:Gold (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496539)

The value of precious metals is static

You, uh, are aware that commodities will also vary against each other, not just against currencies, right? If the value of precious metals is static, how do you explain the value of gold varying against the value of silver? This is the same nonsense we heard about real estate ten years ago. "It'll only go up! It's different this time!"

Re:Gold (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40496183)

You forgot:

[x] Does not scale.

Re:Gold (3, Informative)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#40496395)

And that's precisely why it holds value.

Re:Gold (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40496499)

No, that is why it is not useful when the population grows faster than gold can be mined. Gold has value primarily because at one time, it was accepted as currency by most world governments, which only happened because no better system could be devised with the technology of the time. The industrial uses of gold account for almost none of its value, and make gold even less useful as a currency (since some currency may simply vanish when it is used industrially).

Money that is deflationary encourages hoarding, which only worsens the deflationary trend. That is why currency needs to at least scale with a growing population.

Re:Gold (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496311)

There is not enough gold, with specie backed currency, the amount of money available is proportional to the amount of specie

Cashless == untraceable? (2, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#40495841)

There's been a lot of hype around Sweden going almost cashless, but most transactions there use easily traceable credit and debit cards

Since when does "cashless" mean "untraceable"?

Re:Cashless == untraceable? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496141)

There's been a lot of hype around Sweden going almost cashless, but most transactions there use easily traceable credit and debit cards

Since when does "cashless" mean "untraceable"?

You see, it means neither "tracable" nor "untracable". It means only "cashles" or "without cash". That's exactly why the summary specifies that Sweden's cashless system is, in fact, tracable. Bitcoin tries not to be. You see they specified that in the summary because the word "cashless" doesn't specify it one way or another.

Is basic elementary school-level reading comprehension really THAT hard?

Nobody really knows ... (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#40495851)

... what the best way will be, any anybody who professes omniscience on this is lying to you. We'll have to experiment to find the best solution.

If you're in the US, ask your legislators to support a short act [opencongress.org] to make such experiments legal. Right now, trying to figure this out is a good way to land in prison.

Why? (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 2 years ago | (#40495857)

For the sake of discussion: what is wrong with cash and/or what is the benefit of doing away with it?

Re:Why? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#40495951)

Nothing. But this involves technology so it must be better. If you're not thinking of convoluted ways to do something simple, you're too old.

It's all about technology and how we can insulate ourselves from having to communicate or gasp! interact with other people.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496093)

Because your local walmart provides everything you will ever need to buy right?

Re:Why? (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#40496157)

It's all about technology and how we can insulate ourselves from having to communicate or gasp! interact with other people.

But... we are communicating and interacting right now.

Unifying online and offline payments (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40496023)

Yesterday, I got a cheap dinner with a friend; it came out to about $5 for each of us. I handed the cashier a credit card, since I have not been to an ATM in quite a while, and he gave me a dirty look.

That anecdote illustrates the problem. On the one hand, we have a cheap, anonymous, private way to make payments (cash), but it requires us to have physical paper or coins in our pockets. On the other hand, we have electronic methods that require a connection to an online transaction processor, which results in higher transaction costs and poor privacy protections.

That is why digital cash -- the real kind, not the Bitcoin kind -- is so useful. It allows private, electronic payments to occur online or offline (in the sense of two smartphones performing a transaction over Bluetooth), with all the advantages of cash and all the advantages of the current electronic payment system.

Re:Unifying online and offline payments (4, Interesting)

snowraver1 (1052510) | about 2 years ago | (#40496269)

'Real' digital cash lives at a banking institution, and may be private (depending on your definition of private), but it is not anonymous. Electronic payment certainly does not have the same advantages as cash. You can't use it without an account. How can you give your child $5 for candy? It is not anonymous, and is not accepted everywhere. Real cash is easier too. Cash is also easily converted between different currencies. It's not as easy to convert a Visa card to a Mastercard.

Re:Unifying online and offline payments (4, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40496343)

Someone forgot to look at the work done by this guy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Chaum [wikipedia.org]

Real digital cash involves an issuing authority, which can be a bank or a government, but which neither knows who it has issued any specific token to nor when or where that token has been spent (well, strictly, it only requires this if it is to be both scalable and support offline payments). Real digital cash allows transactions to happen offline i.e. requiring no parties other than the two parties involved in the transaction. That is what Chaum and many other cryptographers spent lots of time developing.

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496027)

What's wrong with cash?

Its too hard for the central government to tax.

Cashless means there can be a VAT/"transaction tax" at any time, moment, place, for any reason, so the usual suspects, the UN and other forces of evil can avail themselves to more of the fruits of your labor.

Prostitutes and drugs (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | about 2 years ago | (#40495865)

How is one supposed to pay for these things with digital currency? Pimps and drug dealers love paper trails!

Re:Prostitutes and drugs (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 2 years ago | (#40495965)

How is one supposed to pay for these things with digital currency? Pimps and drug dealers love paper trails!

No, they love cash. Paper trails are incriminating.

Watts (4, Interesting)

krn1p4n1c (2673551) | about 2 years ago | (#40495889)

Why not use what it all comes down to in the end? Watts. Secondary benefits would be that there would be a huge push to make transferring and storing more efficient and people would actually be able to correlate what they're buying with the cost.

Re:Watts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496371)

Your idea of using a rate unit is intringuing. Maybe you could first explain how one would use "dollars per second" as a currency?

Corrections (5, Insightful)

Cyphase (907627) | about 2 years ago | (#40495891)

"Bitcoin offers anonymity, but isn't backed by any government and has seen high-profile hacks and collapses in value."

"...isn't backed by any government..."
Sounds good to me. Certainly true anyway.

"...has seen high-profile hacks..."
Bitcoin hasn't been hacked, some Bitcoin websites have been hacked.

"...collapses in value."
There was certainly that big bubble, but other than that it's been fairly stable. Certainly for the last many months.
http://bitcoincharts.com/charts/mtgoxUSD#tgCzm1g10zm2g25 [bitcoincharts.com]

Exactly (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495969)

Not being "backed" by any government is nothing less than the very first prerequisite of anonymity. Governments don't monopolize the business of currency and central planning (by force) for your benefit. They are in the business because it's absurdly profitable -- especially when you can print more currency out of thin air and use it to pay off your debt (something no private business could ever do without immediate financial punishment).

Re:Exactly (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40496363)

Not being "backed" by any government is nothing less than the very first prerequisite of anonymity

So that's the reast I know exactly who held the dollar bill in my pocket before I received it...

Re:Corrections (2)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#40496125)

As another poster pointed out, lack of government backing drastically impacts who will accept the payment. Traditional business that pay taxes have trouble working with anything not government backed,.. which cuts out a lot of critical things like food, fuel, utilities, banking, etc. So while payment methods outside government sanction can exist, the lack of backing severally limits the scope of their utility... in other words they can not rise to the level of 'I can work exclusively in this currency' for the vast majority of people. The people who can live exclusively off bitcoin are kinda like those people who live off-grid, it is possible if you have the right social connections, resources, and are willing to forgo participating in significant parts of society.

Granted, as a limited scope currency, lack of government approval can indeed be a good thing, but like disney dollars... can not stand on its own and is really only useful within certain communities/domains.

Re:Corrections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496423)

Lack of government support does not mean that an item will not be accepted by the general public and that includes businesses. A good example of this is financial derivatives. If enough people/businesses want Bitcoin to become an accepted currency then it will. Adoption is slow b/c of the chicken/egg problem that is inherent with starting a new currency. IMHO time will allow Bitcoin to become further adopted to a point that governments can no longer ignore it. It certainly has an immediate application as a replacement for wire transfers.

Re:Corrections (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40496279)

"...isn't backed by any government..."
Sounds good to me. Certainly true anyway.

So what creates the demand for Bitcoin? See, that's the difference between monopoly money and government backed money: a government backing a currency creates a substantial demand for that currency -- the courts will base damage awards and property value assessments on that currency (by extension, loans will be issued and must be repaid using that currency), taxes must be paid in that currency, and the general legal structure surrounding the currency makes it safer to use in a transaction. Now, if you can find the point at which the demand for Bitcoin even approaches that kind of demand, let's see it.

To put it another way, the value of anything depends on both supply and demand . We know all about the supply of Bitcoin; now let's talk about demand.

Not backed by a government... (3, Insightful)

hawks5999 (588198) | about 2 years ago | (#40495897)

Is a benefit of Bitcoin.

Re:Not backed by a government... (4, Insightful)

gatfirls (1315141) | about 2 years ago | (#40496243)

Not backed by anything...is a flaw in bitcoin. I find it hilarious how gold bugs and paultards are some of the biggest fans of a "currency" that has literally nothing behind it. At least our little fiat currency has an army and a bunch of nukes backing it. I'm not against a digital currency but no one in their right mind is going to seriously consider a ponzi-ish currency with absolutely no security in value as a legitimate alternative to the banking/CC industry middlemen for electronic transactions.

Re:Not backed by a government... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496533)

Maybe, maybe not, but the fatal flaw in bitcoin is that nothing (for an approximate value of "nothing") accepts it.

Can I pay for my lunch with it? No.
Can I pay ANY of my bills with it? No.
Can I buy stuff from Newegg with it? No.
Can I buy my groceries with it? No.
Can I pay my property taxes with it? No.

Quite literally not a single thing I need money for can be paid for with bitcoins.

Therefore, it is useless, whether or not it is backed by a government.

hm.. (3, Insightful)

niado (1650369) | about 2 years ago | (#40495899)

I can't figure out if this is a cleverly disguised Bitcoin advertisement or not....

Re:hm.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496017)

Slashdot - Advertisements for nerds, old stories that usually don't matter.

I live in a cashless society. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495929)

I have not touched actual usd in almost a year. Everyone takes credit cards, even at farmers markets. For others, checks work.

Re:I live in a cashless society. (2)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#40496149)

You would be surprised at how many people don't have bank accounts or credit cards. Both can actually be pretty hard to get if you do not already have them.

Re:I live in a cashless society. (1)

Cirvam (216911) | about 2 years ago | (#40496327)

Really? You can buy debit/prepaid cards at pretty much any major retailer in the United States. I'll submit that a lot of people outside the first world probably have limited access to bank accounts and credit cards.

Units of energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495931)

Currency should be based on units of energy. Assuming there is no such thing as "free energy" this should make for a universally balanced currency that would avoid all the problems associated with fiat currency.

So you're a criminal? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495937)

What other need is there for anonymous currency other than to commit crimes (including tax avoidance)?

I suggest that a civilized society has no need for what you ask for. Like it or not, we have chosen to have governments, taxation and regulation. You'd better get used to it because it is here to stay.

Betteridge-Marr Law of Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495953)

A cashless, high-value, anonymous currency, how??? NO!

bitcoin isn't anonymous! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40495999)

Why is it so often blindly repeated the bitcoin is anonymous? Every transaction has an explicit source and destination, and while these identities are bare public keys, tracing the flows through the network and assigning real-world identities at the exchanges is trivial.

What, you want my opinion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496013)

I prefer an oak chest full of gold coins, which I will defend with a .50 cal. black powder muzzleloader double charged with 1/2 inch carpet tacks. Come and get it. I beg you.

Slightly Bored

Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496033)

Bitcoin is stupid because it has no intrinsic value. Whatever it is will have to have intrinsic value to start. Nothing electronic has intrinsic value unless it's convertible at any time and any place to something that is intrinsically valuable like gold, cash, silver, etc.

What Took You So Long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496049)

I'ts frickin Friday afternoon FFS! I've been waiting for my obligatory Bitcoin article all week. What took you so long?

Why is Slashdot so fascinated with this alternative currency crap? Is Timothy lookin to score some weed?

We already have the option(choice is good) to use cash(anonymous) or cashless(electronic) currencies(plural). What motivates me or the man on the street to want anything more?

i gotta take a fat shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496061)

also: bitcoin

Not going to happen (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#40496079)

With the currency troubles in Greece and Spain, a "cashless society" is much further off. One plan for Greece is to suddenly convert the bank account of everyone in Greece from euros to drachma, then immediately devalue the drachma. Since this is well known, everyone with any money is pulling it out of Greek banks.

Keeping money in "the cloud" means someone else controls it. For a good laugh, read the EULA of WePay [wepay.com], a wannabe PayPal competitor. Or those of Dwolla [dwolla.com], which is a pseudo financial institution run out of a hacker space in Iowa. The terms offered by most psuedo-banks in the "cloud" are awful.

Re:Not going to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496515)

The terms offered by most psuedo-banks in the "cloud" are awful.

Yes, but a lot of people use Paypal anyway.

Visa Gift Card (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496099)

Cashless, high value, anonymous. Available at WalMart.

Oh! grandmother, what efficient banking you have! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496193)

"Oh! grandmother," she said, "what efficient banking you have!"

"The better to track terrorists with, my child," was the reply.

bitcoin hacks? (2)

jdavidb (449077) | about 2 years ago | (#40496221)

Bitcoin offers anonymity, but isn't backed by any government and has seen high-profile hacks and collapses in value

Clever wording there. Yes, you could say bitcoin "has seen high-profile hacks," but you couldn't say that bitcoin has been hacked.

Better Question: (3, Insightful)

Stickerboy (61554) | about 2 years ago | (#40496295)

Why?

If anonymity is that important to your transaction, cash is still the way to go. If digital anonymity is what you want, then you need an escrow holder that will take cash and convert it to some form of one-shot unique digital account without any personal information involved.

If you want digital, anonymity, and convenient, well good luck with that. The combination of the 3 just screams "counterfeit". Like the old saying goes, pick two.

Re:Better Question: (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40496415)

If you want digital, anonymity, and convenient, well good luck with that. The combination of the 3 just screams "counterfeit". Like the old saying goes, pick two.

Except that we have ways to deal with that. Chaumiam systems, for instance, will de-anonymize anyone who tries to double-spend their money (the equivalent of counterfeiting; true counterfeiting is hard because of the properties of digital signatures).

Re:Better Question: (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40496431)

"If anonymity is that important to your transaction, cash is still the way to go."
Al Capone used cash.

Contrary to most peoples opinion, cash isn't really that anonymous in any practical way.

Headline in the form of a question. Answer is NO. (1)

hoggoth (414195) | about 2 years ago | (#40496333)

> "Could an experiment called MintChip brewing in Canada finally take us to cashless nirvana?"

When you see a headline in the form of a question, the answer is always "no".
It means the writer doesn't have enough (any?) evidence to back up a conclusion, but the conclusion will attract readers, so he posits it in the form of a question.

Bullwinkle plan (2)

goodmanj (234846) | about 2 years ago | (#40496355)

"Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!"
"But that trick never works!"
"This time for sure!"

what is currency (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#40496405)

It is an abstract representation of value that only has meaning in the context of a society.

It has no meaning or value in and of itself: can't do much with a sack of gold in the middle of the Sahara, unless you meet some tauregs, which brings us back to the point: whatever you agree is a medium of exchange has to derive meaning in terms of what other people think of as value.

Gold has ancient meaning, but ones and zeroes have to stand for something else: a sack of gold in a bank somewhere.

Which implies accountability, traceability, authority.

Without those things, no one in their right mind will accept your currency.

You have to know what currency actually means, and you can't design currency that defies those meanings, or what you have isn't really currency. Except amongst other idealistic clueless fanboys of alternacurrency, but this is a fringe group playing silly games, not actually making something that will replace real currency at large.

There is no trust in the parameters you have outlined. And with no trust, no trade.

You can't. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40496411)

Never happen. Having a currency out of bounds means there is no way to know what's going on with the currency. Is someone counterfeiting it? hording it?

And cash isn't really anonymous, never has been. Ask Al Capone.

How do I knw this? bcasue I was on a team that did it. Create a smart card system(first to be used by a financial entity) and you could use it to pay a shop keeper, get paid from a shop keeper, and use it for bank transaction.

So what happened, like in a day, was that people stopped using banks. Why use a bank when you have a card that can get money on and off it?

Sure, the bank had the physical currency in place, but who had what? you can't loan money that's on the consumers card, but you don't know how much is in the costumer vs. shop keeper. What's an asset? How is interest applied? How do we know the amount of currency out there matches what's ib the bank? Who do you do a currency swap?

So we quickly rolled out a patch the mad it so you needed to go to the bank to add currency.

Stop demonizing bitcoin (3, Interesting)

Thaelon (250687) | about 2 years ago | (#40496417)

Bitcoin offers anonymity, but isn't backed by any government

I'm not sure that's a bad thing anymore given what governments around the world are doing to people these days. I wish it was feasible to move all my money to bitcoin, honestly. Banks and governments can't freeze it at will.

and has seen high-profile hacks and collapses in value.

This is misleading as all hell. Bitcoin itself has never been hacked. And pretty much every non-electronic currency collapsed in value in 2008. I'm not sure bitcoin did. It's new, but it's totally usable and stable enough.

Having used bitcoin personally for several things, I have nothing bad to say about it except that it's a little bit slow for transfers to happen. Still way faster than a bank and it operates 24/365.

Not desirable (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496441)

No responsible government would allow this to happen on their watch. Why would I want to take away one of the best tools law enforcement has for dealing with organized crime, arms trafficking, and other socially dangerous activities? These things are real, and they really get people killed. A financial system which can be used to track such things down is a social good, and should not be undermined. Bitcoin and similar are money laundering schemes, and can and should be stamped out.

Anonymous currency is over-hyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40496477)

I remember reading academic articles from a conference on Financial Cryptography back in the late nineties.
The conference was being held in an offshore tax zone, and that was reflected in the article subjects...

One of the articles was making an interesting point: even in the total absence of legal hurdles, truly anonymous
money can only claim a small percentage of a market economy. That is because, in typical market economies,
Credit is an important force. As a rule, people and organizations (financial or otherwise) will NOT lend money
to anonymous people.

So although there is some space for anonymous currency, and people should fight for the last slices of privacy
they can have, it would be surprising to see anonymous currency become more than a specialty niche.

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